Schuckman: Truckin’ around covering area’s best athletes and teams is life worth living


The Quincy Notre Dame baseball players celebrate during their 13-1 super-sectional victory over Bloomington Central Catholic. The Raiders' story was one of many that made this school year so enjoyable to chonricle. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Something unusual took place Saturday morning.

I woke up with nothing to do.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There’s a list of household chores I’ve ignored far too long, and Buster, my still rambunctious 13-year-old cheagle, was going to get a bulk of my attention. Plus, I’ve decided to replace my grill, so the search begins for my new outdoor cooking station.

But the reality of my Saturday morning is there was no rush to do anything. No need to pack my work bag, make sure my camera battery was charged or decide which games or events on the schedule were the priority.

For the first time since last August, a weekend day dawned without a high school or college sporting event on the docket.

Each sports season — fall, winter and spring — is typically loaded from start to finish with regularly scheduled Saturday events. It’s the postseason success that keeps us on the move, and over the past nine months, we’ve traveled near and far to chronicle that success.

It’s been widespread and grand. Consider these nuggets when you try to determine just how successful teams and athletes from West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri were:

• Two teams won state championships;

• Four others won state trophies;

• Illinois teams won 20 regional and six sectional titles;

• Missouri squads won nine district and three sectional titles;

• Athletes won three individual state championships and more than 40 individual state medals;

• Two college programs received NCAA Tournament bids;

• Two college teams won regular-season conference championships;

• More than 60 area student-athletes signed to play in college;

• And three college athletes signed with professional teams, including the first player in Quincy University football history to sign with an NFL franchise.

It’s been quite an adventurous journey. Along the way, four full teams piled onto the tailgate and into the bed of my pickup truck to celebrate magical moments. An entire offensive line did, too. A group of parents hung out on the tailgate, as did the wives and girlfriends of the Brown County football coaches. Countless others sat on the tailgate for an interview — some recorded, many not — or just to have a conversation.

It’s not a surprise then, coupled with more than 10,000 miles driven covering games and events, the truck needed a new set of tires.

Every mile, every interview, every moment spent with the athletes and coaches in this area made it incredibly worthwhile. It allowed myself and our Muddy River Sports staff to chronicle and highlight the moments people will remember for decades to come.

But more importantly, it allowed us to build relationships with those we were covering and those we were informing and entertaining. That’s the beauty of sports. It brings people together, whether that’s to cheer for a common cause or just to enjoy kids at play.

Talking sports isn’t what we do. It’s how we live.

The student-athletes and coaches throughout this area make this a wonderful life.

So a quiet Saturday morning offered time to reflect on all that had happened and how every single one of those interactions, moments and road trips made me love this life and this job to its fullest. And I can’t wait for busy Saturdays to come back around.

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